As you know, we nerds believe the most memorable experience ever is a Disney vacation with your closest family and friends.
You can’t deny the feeling of walking through the front gates first thing in the morning.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or an adult.
A sense of fun and wonder will overtake you.
So we know that a Disney vacation is a great experience.
Millions of people can’t deny that fact.
However, to make sure your Disney experience is perfect, you have to make a plan.
Which is why we put together this guide to the best way to plan a Disney vacation.
RELATED: Get your Map of Disneyland
Introducing the guide showing you the best way to plan a Disney vacation
In this guide showing you the best way to plan a Disney vacation you’ll learn the four key ways aspects to plan for to have the most awesome experience ever.
It doesn’t matter if you’re going with a small group or large.
First, if you’re flying in to Florida, you’ll need to know what airport to fly into for Disney World.
Also, this guide is for all the Disney parks.
1. How long are you visiting?
First step in figuring out the best way to plan a Disney vacation is to know how long you want to go for?
After you know how long you would like to go for, you need to pick which Disney park you would like to visit.
Obviously, if you’re in either Florida or California, it’ll be cheaper for you to visit the Disney park in your state.
Why do you need to know this?
Well there are multiple parks within each of the main Disney parks.
For example, Disneyland California has two parks, the main Disneyland and California Adventure. Disneyland California is a bit easier for people to visit.
However, Disney World resort has four different theme parks, plus a water park!
So after you’ve picked with Disney park to visit, you have a better understanding of how many days you’ll need to visit in order to comfortably have the best experience possible.
A good thing to know is when there are more discounts for the longer you stay.
Additional Reading: 12 Best Attractions in Hollywood Studios
2. Plan when you’re going to go
The second step to figuring out the best way to plan a Disney vacation is to pick the right time to go.
As you probably already know, Disney parks have different busy and quiet times throughout the year.
If you’re lucky enough to pick when you go on vacation, definitely don’t pick to go during any of the peak seasons.
While Disney parks have started setting crowd control measures in place, such as FastPasses, Genie Plus, and Virtual Queues… it’s still a good idea to avoid crowds when and where you can.
Imagine spending 50% of your time waiting in line at the Disney parks. Not a great idea.
Times and seasons to generally avoid visiting any of the Disney parks are Thanksgiving, Christmas, Memorial Day, 4th of July, or Labor Day.
DISNEY NERD TIP: If there is a three-day weekend at your kids school, it’s probably not the best time to visit Disneyland if you’re avoiding crowds.
If you would like to avoid a TON of people at Disneyland you’ll want to visit in an off season if you can.
Of course this will differ if you’re visiting California or Orlando.
Overall, during the middle of the week when most kids are in school is the best time to visit Disneyland.
This means pretty much avoiding summer and weekends.
That typically means:
- late August – November
- late January – March
- late April – early June
The weather is usually pretty mild for both Orlando and California as so you won’t have to worry about sweating your life away or freezing during your Disney vacation.
3. Where are you staying?
The third best way to plan a Disney vacation is to pick a comfortable hotel to stay at.
Around most Disney parks are a plethora of hotels and options for staying.
We recommend to not go for the cheapest option.
Nothing like a stinky room or bad service outside of the park will ruin your Disney vacation faster.
Yes, it can be difficult to pay slightly above average to stay at a nice hotel, but think of it as part just another part of your Disney vacation experience.
Where you sleep and wake up has a huge effect on your comfort and mood when you enter the park.
If you want a full Disney experience, we recommend staying at a Disney-owned hotel.
Yes, these can be expensive.
But when you stay at a Disney-owned park, you’re going to get a lot of perks you normally wouldn’t staying further away from the park.
First, when you stay at a Disney-owned hotel. You’ll most likely not have to walk far to get into the parks. In fact, some Disney hotels have a dedicated secret entrances into the parks. For example, when you stay the the Grand Californian, you’ll be able to walk directly into California Adventure.
If you aren’t interested in perks or are planning a last-minute Disney vacation, it may be best to explore other accommodation options. Which there are plenty of. There are a lot of Disney-approved hotels that work in close relation to Disney. Often delivering just as high of standards.
If you are visiting Disneyland, many hotels are right outside and are well within walking distance to the parks.
RELATED: 10 Amazing Hotels Near Disneyland
This makes everything easier if you are visiting from out of town or don’t have a rental car or if you want to take a mid-day break at your hotel pool.
Disney World resort is near Orlando and Kissimmee. Which is good to know if you’re looking for hotels not owned by Disney (which will be easier on the wallet).
However, since Disney World can be out of walking distance from off-site hotels, we recommend finding out if your accommodation offers transportation in the form of a bus or shuttle.
4. Make a park plan
The fourth step to figuring out how to plan a Disney vacation is to pick which parks you want to visit.
You make have picked Florida or California, now comes the hard part. Picking which parks within the parks you’re going to visit.
You can also focus on eating at quick service restaurants.
If you’re going to Disneyland in California, just make it easier on yourself – go to both Disneyland and California Adventure. Especially if you plan on spending more than one day there. We recommend going to both because you can easily see everything in either park in one day. So why not dedicate each day to each of the parks.
Now if you’re planning on visiting Disney World for a few days, you really need to plan which of the parks you’re going to dedicate your time to. As you can easily spend an entire month eating and riding your way through Disney World.
You’ll definitely want to have a plan down to what ride and when you’re going to ride it.
This way you’re going to not only make everyone happy, but also avoid over analysis paralysis. Which can definitely take over if you’re making a decision of what to do in the moment. Also, if you don’t have a plan for what to do in Disney World you’ll easily waste a lot of time.
This can be fun. Actually sitting down and deciding what everyone wants to ride and eat weeks and months before you head to Disney World. Building up the excitement!
Also, while you’re in the midst of planning rides, don’t forget about researching your things like shows, parades, and fireworks. All of which won’t let you down.
Making a park plan can seem daunting, which is why I plan all of my trips out with the Touring Plans website and app. You can input your dates and use one of their touring plans based on the ages of your family or you can customize your own. I recently discovered that the plans also work for hard ticket events like the Halloween and Christmas parties.